A strong community can promote new ideas and ensure accountability. It can also act as motivation, support, and even provide a little friendly competition. The power of community is undeniable and the Okanagan tech community is no exception.
Our community is strong and growing with record speed and maintaining a connection through a period of growth like this can be a challenge. Nobody panic, we’ve got a plan.
We are #OKGNtech is a showcase of Okanagan tech entrepreneurs, partners, supporters, and cheerleaders designed to fuel more connection, more growth, and more excitement. Follow along on the blog and on Instagram @OKGNtech to learn more about our growing community and what makes them awesome.
Meet Tory. Tory Braun is the Community Cultivator for the Okanagan Young Professionals and the Owner of Clever Girl Communications. When she’s not bringing the talented people of the Okanagan together, you’ll find Tory floating on the lake, playing in her multi-sport league, or enjoying a book with a cup of tea.
Where do you work in the Okanagan?
My main gig is working with the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission as the Community Cultivator for their Okanagan Young Professionals program. I have the awesome job of helping people get connected in the community—whether they’re relocating or have been here for a while. I also have my own consulting company called Clever Girl Communications. It leverages my background in communications so I work one-on-one with people to help them tie their brand voice with what they need in digital tools.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I love meeting people. I’m naturally curious and creative, so getting to know people and what drives them is something I have fun with. Being able to communicate well is a skill that not everyone has and I know that I’m lucky to have it. So, helping to translate people’s vision to resonate with their audience and community is super fulfilling.
How did you get into this kind of work?
My degree is in archaeology, so this was not the original plan. When I came back to the Okanagan, there were no jobs in that field—which I knew—but I wanted to be here for the lifestyle. I had to draw on the skills that I used working in some of my previous jobs, and the natural communications skills I had. I’m happy with where I’ve ended up but I’m sure I’ll have more career changes in the future, too.
What advice would you give to someone interested in a job like yours?
You need to stick with your authentic self to grow your skills. There are a lot of things that you can learn yourself, and there are a lot of things people will tell you that you should learn. But, if you can tap into an educational institution or a mentor that you admire, follow that path to learn. Otherwise, it can be very overwhelming. Trust what it is that you look for in a learning experience over what people tell you is necessary.
What do you enjoy about the OKGNtech community?
People are really open to chatting and hearing about your business. They’re open to owning their own mistakes and sharing them with others. There are so many entrepreneurs here that this helping kind of give-and-take mentality has grown in the tech community’s relationships. The people are just fun, too—they’re not just a bunch of nerds. They like to get together and party.
Do you think there is anything missing from the community here?
I’d like to see more collaboration between the tech community and the broader community, especially arts and culture. There isn’t really a line between the two, there is a lot of art in tech, but people commonly separate those two worlds. The different components of our community are capable of coming together because, at the core of it, they are all one and the same. Besides, when different businesses and groups come together, they always come away with innovative ideas.
The best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
You can do anything that you want, but you can’t do everything that you want. For a long time, I didn’t know what it meant. In the last 5 years, I realized that I can set my mind to do anything but I can’t do all of the things that I want, or that other people want from me. You need to check in on the things that you want to do right now and focus on them. Don’t get sidetracked developing skills you’re not passionate about.
Who inspires you?
I really admire Arlene Dickinson as a female entrepreneur and a person. She owns herself and is honest about the emotional side of business—which is a really important thing to normalize. Also, the fact that she’s a badass mom and went through crappy relationships is inspiring. It’s the reality of life, trudging through those unpleasant things to find your success.
When different businesses and groups come together, they always come away with innovative ideas.